6 Feb 2018

Watch: Myanmar LGBT Festival Goes Public

The event saw double the attendance of previous years.

The &Proud festival went public in Yangon, Myanmar, for the first time this year, engaging the public in dancing, costume displays, film screenings and games, Straits Times and AFP reported. 

Around 6,000 people came to the festival on its opening day in late January—more than double the attendees in previous years, when the celebration was held more quietly. 

“This is not just for LGBT, it is for the whole country, acknowledging equality and basic human rights,“ Hla Myat Tun, one of the event’s organizers, told AFP.

&Proud’s organizers emphasised that the festival served as a form of public outreach and education in socially conservative Myanmar, where the LGBT community still experiences widespread discrimination. Colonial-era statutes continue to criminalize same-sex relations in the country. 

Straits Times reported that LGBT volunteers were present as a “human library” to personalise the experience for attendees and provide insight into their identities. The festival will visit other locations throughout Myanmar later in 2018 to continue to raise awareness.